It’s beginning to look like hockey season again. The weather outside is cold and snowy, how it feels all hockey season long. At the beginning of this series, it was almost 80 degrees and feeling like summer. Now it is back to being cold, hopefully putting more people back in the hockey mood.
For today’s final off day before game 4, let’s look at how a few key losses of some players will affect them. Chris Kunitz, Trevor Daley, Ian Cole, and Nick Bonino are all back in the playoffs, but with other teams this year. Each player had a key moment, goal, or shift that helped the Pens through their last couple playoff runs.
We’ll start with defense. So far, two strong performances and one very weak one. The Daley and Cole trades do show a gap that hasn’t been fully fixed, even with Letang back for this year’s cup run. A lot of experts coming into the playoffs believe this would be the Penguins downfall on the way to a three peat. Not a single ESPN hockey analyst, for example, picked the Pens to reach the Cup finals. I think the defense could be a big issue when the games are closer in a really tight series, against a very good opponent. For this series against the Flyers though, it will not be a issue and the Penguins will come out on top.
Next for the offense they lost Chris Kunitz and Nick Bonino. These guys both scored some big goals in the playoffs last year , especially Bonino being apart of the deadly HBK line. Although both of these guys are missed, I think the team has enough offensive fire power to get along without them. If any major issues come about in this playoff run it will not be due to a scoring drought, it will come from defensive breakdowns.